Hickory Can’t Wait
This hardwood is best harvested for its bark and wood soon after cutting.
by Peter Follansbee
Green woodworking has a different set of criteria when it comes to stockpiling material. Unlike those who work with seasoned stock, those of use who use green wood try to keep a large log from drying at all; we want to rive and work the stock with a high moisture content. Ease of cutting is one principal reason for this.
One question I often get from people wanting to try their hand at this work is, “How long will the wood stay green?” With the oak I typically use, it’s an amazingly long time. Left in large unsplit sections, an oak log will begin to decay before it will truly dry. Over time, the sapwood will rot away, but inside, the heartwood will be wet, smelly and just as strong as the day it was felled.
As a result, I am a green woodworker who is usually in no hurry. Recently, I split and planed some red oak that was rough-split out more than a year ago. It’s not quite as easily worked as it would be if it were just felled, but the semi-dry wood is still within my strength limits.
A group I work with held the second annual Greenwood Fest in Plymouth, Mass., last summer. Among the leftovers were two hickory saplings that Tim Manney used to demonstrate making woven bark seats for his elegant ladderback chairs. Once Manney’s program was done, I quickly moved to stash the hickories, knowing I could make good use of them afterward.
From the November 2017 issue, #235